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Roman Epics XVIII: Virgil’s Aeneid Book 9, or Two Books for the Price of One!

Just when you think Book 9 is over…

Discussion Prompts

  1. AP Credit: Compare/contrast Euryalus and Telemakhos.
  2. What do you think the nature of the relationship between Nisus and Euryalus is? Why?
  3. Why do you think Juno chooses Iris as her messenger in this book?
  4. AP Credit: Compare/contrast Turnus and Achilles.
  5. What role does hubris play in this book? What does that tell us about fate versus free will?
  6. Ship mermaids. Discuss.

Roman Tragedy VII: Seneca’s Hercules Furens, or the Only Man Who Can Beat Hercules

Juno has plans for Hercules, and they aren’t good. But then, are they ever?

Discussion Prompts

  1. How does immortality affect the relationship between Juno and Jupiter? How does it affect Juno’s reactions to Jupiter’s, shall we say, indiscretions?
  2. Would Amphitryon and Theseus have been able to stop Hercules from killing himself? Why or why not?
  3. Does this play improve upon Euripides’s Heracles? How? Or why not?
  4. AP Credit: How does Seneca reference earlier Roman poets? How might the knowledge a Roman audience have had affect how they view the events of this play?
  5. What are the places in this play where Seneca demonstrates a stoic restraint of passions?

Greek Myth XLI: Pseudo-Apollodorus’s Bibliotheca Book II, Chapter VIII – The Heraclids, or What We Talk About When We Talk About Heracles

Heracles’s sons and grandsons carry on the line in today’s episode.

Discussion Prompts

  1. AP Credit: Plagues and Politics. Discuss.
  2. What do you think about the animals on the altars? Do you agree with the ancient interpretations of what each animal means? Why or why not?
  3. Alcmene uses her weaving pins as weapons. What do you think this says about women’s power? What other examples can you think of that are similar to this?
  4. Why do you think the third crop means the third generation of Heracles’s descendants? Why do you think his family has to wait so long to conquer the Peloponnese?

Roman Epics XVII: Virgil’s Aeneid Book 8, or Aeneas Finds Rome

Aeneas finds some allies and some armor in today’s episode.

Discussion Prompts

  1. AP Credit: Cacus + Hercules = Civilization. Discuss.
  2. Why do you think Evander is so happy to ally with Aeneas?
  3. Is The Aeneid propaganda? Why or why not?
  4. Foreshadowing: What do you think is going to happen next? Who will survive the war? Who won’t?
  5. What do you think of the relationship between Venus and Vulcan (Aphrodite and Hephaistos in Greek) as depicted in this book? How do you think it compares with the earlier depictions of them that we have read?

Roman Tragedy VI: Seneca’s Troades, or Not Euripides’s Trojan Women

Seneca merges two of Euripides’s plays about the end of the Trojan War with mixed results.

Discussion Prompts

  1. Helen states that she finds herself “compelled to hurt the Trojans.” What do you think this means about how she originally came to Troy? Did she come willingly? Or not?
  2. What do you think of the portrayal of Agamemnon in this telling?
  3. Who is the best stoic in this play? Who is the worst? Why?
  4. Directing questions: How would you produce this play? Vision? Dream cast? How would you fill in the flatness? Etc.?
  5. Which Trojan Women do you prefer – Seneca or Euripides? Why?
  6. If you were to write a literary analysis of this play, what aspect would you focus on?

Greek Myth XXXV: Pseudo-Apollodorus’s Bibliotheca Book II, Chapter VII – Heracleidae, or Heracles Seeks Revenge

Heracles kills some more people and finally gets his comeuppance. Sort of.

It’s long. It has nothing to do with Heracles. Or Greek Mythology. But it’s funny. And I did tell you that I’d share in case you didn’t get the reference.

Discussion Prompts

  1. Does everyone deserve what they get in this chapter?
  2. Retell this from the perspective of Deianira. Or Iole. Or any of the other women Heracles, shall we say, beds.
  3. What do you think is the meaning behind the trope of building your own funeral pyre?
  4. Does Heracles deserve a place on Olympus? Why or why not?
  5. If your region were to claim Heracles, what would his local story be?

Roman Epics XVI: Virgil’s Aeneid Book 7, or Allecto Runs Free

Juno is furious, and she knows just who to ask for help.

Discussion Prompts
  1. How much free will does Lavinia have? Explain.
  2. Tell this story from Lavinia’s point of view.
  3. Why doesn’t Turnus jump at the chance to fight Aeneas?
  4. Juno or Allecto? Why?
  5. What does this book have to say about fate versus free will?
  6. What other themes stand out to you in this book?

Roman Tragedy V: Seneca’s Medea, or Every Day a Little Death

Seneca gives us his take on Medea in today’s episode.

Discussion Prompts
  1. AP Credit: How does this play teach us about stoicism?
  2. Which Medea do you prefer? That of Euripides or that of Seneca? What about Jason?
  3. What does the end of this play have to say about the gods?
  4. How would you stage this play? Is the chorus on stage the entire time? What about Medea? Or the nurse? Where would you put entrances and exits?
  5. And the usual directing questions: vision, dream cast, etc.?

Greek Myth XL: Pseudo-Apollodorus’s Bibliotheca Book II, Chapter VI – Wars of Heracles, or Why is Heracles Revered?

Heracles kills some more people and has to atone for it. Again.

Discussion Prompts

  1. Tell Queen Iardanes’s story.
  2. Heracles’s “dire disease” is not described. What do you think it is? Why?
  3. Is the country of Lydia a matriarchy? Why or why not?
  4. Why do you think Iphitus believes in Heracles’s innocence over the cattle after he refuses to let his sister marry the hero?
  5. Why do you think Eurytus refuses to accept the compensation for Iphitus’s murder?

Roman Epics XV: Virgil’s Aeneid Book 6, or Virgil Throws Some Shade(s)

Aeneas visits the Underworld and learns some things… Or does he?

The Vatican keeps pretty tight reigns over photography within the Sistine Chapel, so I haven’t been able to find any copyright-free images to share. This site, however, has some excellent close-ups of the prophets and sibyls that Michelangelo includes as part of that massive work of art. I’d forgotten how he depicts the Cumaean Sibyl who plays a large role in Book 6 of The Aeneid

Discussion Prompts:
  1. Okay, this won’t work quite as well within the format of a discussion thread, but what do you think the Sibyl looks like? Bonus points if you answer this before clicking on the link above.
  2. Is The Aeneid propaganda? Why or why not?
  3. What do you think of the brief glimpse of Dido in this book?
  4. What should we think of Roman history as described by Virgil in this book?
  5. Why does Aeneas leave through the gate of ivory?
  6. How should we assess the stories we tell ourselves about our own countries histories?